Today, we are bombarded with messages telling us that dieting, and exercise are good for us and will make us live longer. While there is no denying that it is true, this is only the case when done in moderation to improve health. What happens when something goes wrong and the drive to be healthy becomes something else altogether?
Anorexia feels simultaneously like an antagonistic friend and a goal to be achieved. It is not feeling good enough. That is what it is. That is where you start. It starts with that initial feeling of being certain that you know how worthless you are. It is the one-off comment about how pretty you would be if you were skinnier. Otherwise, it ranges from someone telling you how pretty your face is to any other compliment about your body, instead of your being.
It is skipping one meal. One meal and knowing that you already feel lighter; maybe not physically but emotionally. Then, skipping another made you feel alive, while simultaneously killing a part of your spirit. It is ignoring the rumble in your stomach, which screams out for a real meal, due to lack of satiation in a week or so… it is a dull pain. A real, dull pain that you try to silence with calorie-free water and a few raw vegetables if you are treating yourself. It is looking into the mirror and seeing something completely different than reality. Someone who is ugly. Someone who does not deserve anyone else’s love until they are perfect. You must be perfect.
It is avoiding your friend’s calls or text messages. You do not want to go out and pretend that you are going to eat. Then, make up some excuse about how you are financially strapped or just not hungry. It is simpler if you avoid people, and you avoid temptation to give into food. It is lonely, a deep seeded loneliness that not many people would understand. You are alone on this self-destructive path of what you think gaining self-love is. One that none of your friends or family would understand. You are losing you.
It is forgetting what hunger actually feels like because you are too far gone to remember. Your brain has stopped telling your body that you are hungry. It is the two-days at the gym, where you feel the need to run. Run away the calories you are not eating. It is the feeling of ‘control’. The control you get by deciding if you want to eat or not. By controlling what your body will look like, you control your life. But this is not controlling you… you are controlling it.
It is the constant craving for compliments. The ones that you got in the beginning when you began this journey. The smiles from people, who never gave you the time of day before. The external validation from everyone else make you confident. It is the shivers that come late at night. You have not felt warm in a while. Since you started your path to being what you should look like, it feels cold and dreary.
It is when people start to ask you, “Are you eating? Do you want more?” These are worried looks plastered on their faces. In your eyes, you mustered up the courage to even see their faces. They watch every bite you pretend to eat, wondering if you will go to the bathrooms afterwards.
It is the over-reactive, “Of course I’m eating.” It is the strong response to anyone who questions your diet. When people wonder why you have lost so much so quickly, you just tell them you are not sure why. It is having no energy… no energy for anything or anyone. It is comparing yourself to every woman smaller or man buffer than you. That is what you tell yourself anyways. You are not good enough.
It is getting to your goal weight or body muscle percentage and not being satisfied. You are never going to be satisfied, until the person looking back at you is perfect. But what really is perfect anyways? Does it even exist?
Every 62 minutes, one person dies from complications caused by an eating disorder. Did that surprise you? Here are some more shocking statistics: one in five living with anorexia nervosa die by suicide; one in 25 people living with bulimia nervosa die by suicide. The mortality rate for anorexia and bulimia nervosa stands at 4% of those afflicted.
The bottom line, eating disorders can be killers. The suffering caused by all types of eating disorders are beyond measure. However, one does not need to become a statistic. For starters, one must seek and receive the proper help. Many people overcome the challenges of eating disorders and go on to live healthy and productive lives.
The first step to surviving and thriving after an eating disorder has formed is to recognize and admit it to yourself. It is finally realizing that you have lost control. The ‘power’ you had, the power to restrain your worries… it is gone. You start to feel like you are caught in a prison; mentally, physically, emotionally. It is admitting to yourself that you need help. Then, taking that next step talking about your struggle with someone you trust. Then, slowly but surely, it is taking yourself back, and becoming the most authentic self you can.
Nowadays, it is so common to brush off the importance of self-love. We all love to talk about it, to advise our friends and families, telling them that it is the key to happiness. We do it, and it gives us internal validation, like we know and value ourselves. But, in reality, do we actually? In a sense, we are ‘married’ to ourselves, living a lifelong relationship with no way out. In which case, how come we neglect to treat our bodies with the love, care and respect it deserves? As imperfectly perfect human beings… let us acknowledge that to err is to be human.
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